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Nuggets’ bench has identity in DeMarcus Cousins and JaMychal Green: “We just want the smoke”


By virtue of his father, who was an assistant on the title-winning “Bad Boys” Pistons teams, Nuggets coach Michael Malone saw how far an identity can carry you.

And nothing would please him more than to implement that same edge in Denver.

Sunday’s 124-92 shellacking of Portland wasn’t just about taking advantage of a battered squad to extend their winning streak to six. And it wasn’t just about overcoming the challenge of winning on the second night of a back-to-back or for the third time in four nights, either. It was about beating and bullying a team that wasn’t big enough and imposing their own identity on the outcome of the game.

There were no better examples than DeMarcus Cousins and JaMychal Green, the two Alabama natives who combined for 39 points and 18 rebounds off Denver’s bench. Cousins, now at ease after signing with the Nuggets for the rest of the season, added six assists for good measure.

Their bruising, physical play spearheaded a season-high 76 points from Denver’s bench. Bryn Forbes, whose shooting has often been a product of the duo’s stiff screens, rained in 17 points.

Together, along with Austin Rivers and, on this night, Facu Campazzo, Denver’s reserves tilted the game. Campazzo had been benched in lieu of Bones Hyland, but an ankle injury to the rookie thrust the wily Argentinian back into the rotation. The smallest guy on the court rewarded that trust with seven rebounds.

Whether it’s Rivers’ electric first step, Forbes’ silky shot, or the shared muscle between Cousins and Green, the Nuggets have numerous levers to pull on that second unit.

Malone was almost beaming at the identity that’s been forged off Denver’s bench. What was once a liability – Malone used to joke he couldn’t play Nikola Jokic for 48 minutes – has blossomed into a strength. Not only did the Nuggets improve to 10-0 in games Cousins has appeared in, but they were on the verge of finishing February with the second-most potent bench unit in the NBA at nearly 44 points per game.

When Malone uses words like “toughness,” “edge,” or “physicality,” they’re not hollow descriptions. Just ask Bill Laimbeer and Dennis Rodman from those Pistons’ teams.

“You can never have enough of that,” Malone said.

In retrospect, it’s fair to wonder whether his team’s lack of enforcers ever bothered Malone. Not that it matters now when he’s got two versatile, gritty big men eager to roam the paint and bang bodies.

Green, asked what was different about guys from Alabama, said it succinctly.

“Something in the water,” he surmised. “… We just want the smoke.”

After Saturday night’s over Sacramento, as Cousins and Monte Morris cackled to each other on the postgame podium, Morris shed light on the team’s new Boogie dynamic. Morris said Cousins had the team’s respect, and their ear, on the first day of his initial 10-day contract. According to Morris, Cousins spoke up immediately.

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“I could tell just being here, we needed someone in the locker room like him,” Morris said.

Following Sunday’s win over Portland, Green echoed the exact same thing.

When Cousins is engaged, doling out extra passes, swiping at dribblers or warding off rebounders with one arm, there’s an energy that permeates the rest of the group. It’s physical, and it’s fun.

“It’s something that we need,” Green said.

Article Source and Credit denverpost.com https://www.denverpost.com/2022/02/28/nuggets-bench-identity-demarcus-cousins-jamychal-green/ Buy Tickets for every event – Sports, Concerts, Festivals and more buytickets.com


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